Motorists who are out and about over the next four Saturday nights may notice they have some company. The Iowa State Patrol, for the second consecutive year, will be shifting work schedules to add troopers to the highways on Saturday nights through the month of June. Colonel Patrick Hoye, Chief of the Iowa State Patrol, says there were 34 fatalities on Iowa roadways in June 2009.

“Last June, we saw a 27-year low in (traffic) fatalities in Iowa and I think part of that was attributed to our Safe Saturday project,” Hoye told Radio Iowa. Only one of those 34 fatal crashes last June occurred on a Saturday night where troopers were working the highways or interstates. Hoye says the Safe Saturday project is designed to encourage drivers to slow down and buckle up and remove drunk drivers from the road.

During 2009, troopers increased their June O-W-I arrests by 120% over the previous year. “I think it’s just common sense, but if you remove impaired drivers from the road, you’re going to see a drop in the fatality rate in Iowa and that’s what we saw,” Hoye said. Speeding citations issued by the patrol increased 81% in June 2009 compared to the previous year, while seatbelt citations jumped 51%.

Hoye became Chief of the Iowa State Patrol in December 2007 and pledged to incorporate data-driven enforcement. He says statistics showed more fatal crashes were happening in June than any month of the year and most of those June fatalities occurred on Saturday nights. “So, it just made common sense that Saturdays in June were the target,” Hoye said.

Weather permitting, the Safe Saturday projects will include Iowa State Patrol aircraft to help with enforcement. The projects will be staggered around the state throughout the four Saturdays in June.

Dates and project locations (ISP District offices involved):
June 5 — Des Moines, Spencer, Oelwein
June 12 — Council Bluffs, Mason City, Mount Pleasant
June 19 — Osceola, Cedar Falls, Stockton
June 26 — Denison, Cedar Rapids, Fort Dodge